Dear Gy, Today I will talk about Firgun. The first time I came across this term, I was struck by the nuance in its inflection. I said it over and over, letting it roll around my tongue. You may not have heard it, because it’s not from English. Rather, it’s from Hebrew. But the beauty of the word is nothing compared to what it means.
Firgun: An informal modern Hebrew term and concept in Israeli culture, which describes genuine, unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of the other. (Wikipedia)
That’s right. It means to be genuinely happy for the accomplishments of another. That feeling envelops you when you least expect it. It overwhelms you and fills your heart with so much joy that you can experience the happiness bursting through.
I first came across this word late last year and even wrote about it on Twitter. It was around this time that I was able to feel a conscious shift in my outlook towards people and life in general.
You may not know this but I went through a brief phase when I felt jealous of other people and their success. I would feel bitter that other people were publishing books or climbing the ladder of success but I seemed stuck where I was. No, it’s not something I am proud of, but I’ve always been honest with you and I don’t ever want that to change.
So what did happen? How did I move from bitterness to Firgun? Ah, now there’s a tale.
Around early November last year, I began to do something. I began working extra hard on my blog. In this period, the joy that came from the work was enough to keep me mentally preoccupied. It left little or no room for anything else, leave alone jealousy. While I did this, I realised the amount of effort that goes into making something like this happen.
And a shift occurred. Now when someone posted about their success, I would feel immensely happy for them.
I knew how hard they must have worked to make it happen.
I cheered them for their joys.
My heart swelled with pride that I could call them my friends. Their joy became my joy.
And the best part? They returned the favour!
You know about my laptop burning, right? And how upset I was about it. Added to that, I also thought I’d lose my book’s draft. My friends rallied around and insisted that I should check for the backup. Six weeks later, when I checked and found the backup intact, I was over the moon! Heart bursting with gratitude, I shared about it on Facebook.
My dear Gy, you should have seen the Firgun that day! Friends, acquaintances, family, strangers- over 100 people came forward to say that they were happy for me. And knowing people the way I do, I knew that this was genuine. I could tell that they were thrilled for me. Even now as I type this, I have tears filling my eyes when I think of the kindness in my life.
I’ve seen you practising Firgun without even realising it.
On the days you come home after a test and tell me , “Amma, I got 20 but I am SO happy that S got 29 today. She really wanted to do well on this test!”
In those moments when you share, “Amma, I was so happy that G got chosen for the Class Rep position. She really deserved it.”
When you say this, I search your face and your tone for disappointment, but I see none. I look for a hint of envy, but there isn’t any. All I see is the immense thrill you have for another’s success.
In all of this, I see the innocence in you. It’s free, genuine, unclouded by the petty jealousies and vanities we learn as we grow older. You, my child, have Firgun and lots of it to spare. And I hope you never, ever lose it.
Stay happy. For yourself and for others, this may be the best gift you can ever give. After all, it costs nothing but means everything.
Lots of love,
*Did you know? There is an International Day of Firgun and it falls on July 17th!
Plus, there is something called the Firgunator. Generate a compliment for a friend today.
I am writing short notes to my daughter on some aspects that I hold very dear. I hope you enjoy these snippets as much as I love writing them.
Thank you for being part of my journey.